Carnival Cruise Line extends pause in US trips through April amid COVID: 'It's going to take a while longer'

The cruise line has been operating at reduced capacity for nearly a year.

Carnival Cruise Line is extending its pause in U.S. departures through April 30 and canceling Australian operations through May 19, the company announced Saturday.

The cruise line has also cancelled the European itineraries for Carnival Legend, which were set to begin this May through Oct. 31.

The news comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the world despite the distribution of the vaccines.

The cruise line has been operating at reduced capacity for nearly a year. Since March 14, all passenger-carrying vessels operating in U.S. waters have been subject to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's no sail order, due to the pandemic.

Carnival Cruise Line guests are now being notified of the cancelations and each is being offered either a full refund or a "generous future cruise credit and onboard credit package," the company said in a statement.

"Our guests and travel agent partners continue to express their loyalty to Carnival and their desire to get back on our ships as soon as they can, and we are heartened by the booking demand and activity we continue to see," Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in the statement.

The company has also moved the start date for Mardi Gras from Port Canaveral. The first cruise is now set for May 29.

"We are certainly committed to welcoming them back as quickly as possible, but unfortunately we have determined it's going to take a while longer, and the situation in Europe will also impact Mardi Gras' departure to the U.S., and Carnival Legend's itineraries in Europe," Duffy added.

In October of last year, Carnival Cruise Line announced it was canceling sailings from all ports -- except its home ports of Miami and Port Canaveral, Florida -- until the end of the year.

The news came as a shock, since months prior, in May, the company had said it planned to use a "phased-in approach" to resume some North American sailings starting on Aug. 1.

As of Saturday, at least 96.2 million people around the world have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 2.06 million have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Now, two additional variants of the virus are circling around South Africa and the United Kingdom.

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